SILVER SPRING, Md. – A Silver Spring mother is suing the Montgomery County Police Department and local school board following a disturbing incident with her five-year-old son.
The civil lawsuit accuses officers of assault, false arrest and emotional distress after the child wandered out of East Silver Spring Elementary school.
“If you watch the video and slow it down frame by frame you just see terror in his eyes,” Matthew Bennett, attorney to plaintiff Shanta Grant, said.
The disturbing encounter was documented by officers’ body camera video, which hasn’t been released yet.
The complaint names Montgomery County police officers Kevin Christmon and Dionne Holliday.
“The officer gets out of the cruiser and immediately starts talking to this five year old like he’s just been caught in a drug deal,” James Papirmeister, co-counsel for Grant, said.
According to court documents, Officer Christmon yells at the crying child to get into the cruiser saying, “look at me … get back over there, now. Now. Don’t make me take you over there.”
After the child is placed in the cruiser, Officer Holliday says, “Does your mama spank you? Does your mama spank you?…She’s going to spank you today.”
Once back inside of the school, the lawyers say Officer Holliday told the 5 year old: “I hope your mama let me beat you.”
This, while Officer Christmon calls him “a violent little thing.”
Both officers talk of a beating several times.
Attorneys say one of the officers gets inches away from the child’s face and screams.
The lawyers added that all this was happening while school employees stood by without intervening.
“The child can be seen just being traumatized for 50 minutes. All he was doing was crying for the most part for 50 minutes,” Papirmeister said.
After the kindergartner’s mother showed up, attorneys say Officer Christmon allegedly handcuffs one of the boys arms
“Slips the cuffs over one arm, pulls the arm behind the back and the discussion is, ‘this will happen if you continue to misbehave in your life,’” Bennett said.
Bennett also said that at one point, back inside the school, the young boy tries to stand up and one of the officers forces him back into the chair he was sitting in.
The attorneys say the young boy is still struggling after the encounter and that his mother, Shanta Grant, hopes the lawsuit brings serious change to both the school and police department.
“Through the entire video you do not see the child doing anything but crying, be meek and being very sad and traumatized,” Papirmeister said.
Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando says he’s disturbed by the details.
“I was shocked. I was realty dismayed and I want to get to the bottom of what happened,” Jawando said.
Attorneys for Grant said they notified the police department and school district in August and October of last year.
But Jawando said he just found out about the situation when the civil suit was filed last week.
“I think we should know about things like this when they happen,” he said. “The allegations in here lay out a story. There were several breakdowns in the system it seems to me if these allegations are true.”
Jawando said he’s requested a copy of the body camera footage from the police chief.
“It was just an abhorrent set of claims. The whole interaction, as reported is not how we would want our police to interact with anybody much less a five year old boy who was obviously scared and disoriented,” Jawando said.
Both the Montgomery County Police Department and the Board of Education declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.